Tips to Boost Fall Sales with Pumpkin and Ornamentals Merchandising
The local harvest is underway for pumpkins, gourds and other fall ornamentals here in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Do you have a plan to create additional sales, margin and customer excitement with this seasonal category at your store?
We asked a few of our retailing experts this question:
What are some smart tips, methods or strategies you’ve employed to drive and create fall ornamental sales?
Go Big, Go Outdoors, Go Everywhere
Brian Dey, Produce Merchandiser, says, “Create excitement by building outdoor displays. Use hay bales, corn stalks, Indian corn and an expanded variety pumpkins – orange, white, tan, blue. These add flavor and pizzazz to the store and create an atmosphere of the Fall season.”
Additional display locations multiply sales according to Nick Colonna, Retail Sales Representative. “We used to put Pumpkins, Gourds and other Ornamentals EVERYWHERE – not just at the front of the produce department but also big carvers pumpkins on the floor under the cases, little ornamentals on top of the cases, bins in the wide aisles. The more we put out, and the more places we put them in, the more we sold!”
Barry Clevenger, one of our Produce Merchandisers, agrees about the effectiveness of having various selling locations. “Build satellite displays of pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn near your Halloween Candy Display and place mini pumpkins at the registers.” Joe Bossler, Retail Sales Representative, adds, “Merchandise fall ornamentals outside on the sidewalk, by the store entryway, in the vestibule and by your focal apple display inside the department.”
“If you build a ‘WOW’ display it will stop customers in their tracks and pull them into the display to shop,” recommends Produce Merchandiser, Bruce Meidinger. “Go BIG with the displays since there is very little risk to spoilage shrink with ornamentals, plus there’s plenty of time to sell the product with lots of sales potential… Use grower bins, crates and bushel baskets for merchandising. The bigger the display the more enticing to buy.” Scarecrows and straw bales add to the look too.
Events, Fun for Kids Creates Buying Environment
Prize Winner jumbo pumpkins aren’t something you will likely sell, but they are fun to see for your customers and their kids, and will help you sell other product. “Order a massive ‘guess the weight’ prize-winner pumpkin, put it in your department and surround it with smaller ornamentals. Raffle it off to the closest guess,” suggests Brian Dey. “Have your own ‘Paint the Pumpkin’ day at your store as a way to build store traffic. Provide large face pumpkins or Baby Pams and paints for kids and adults to come up with their own designs.”
Brian also believes the small-sized ornamentals like jack-be-little orange mini pumpkins, white baby boo mini pumpkins, and two-color Tiger Stripe pumpkins are important to keep on hand. “Every kid wants a cool little pumpkin. We’ve seen successful promotions where the store offered a free mini pumpkin with the purchase of a face pumpkin for jack-o-lantern carving.” Mini pumpkins and gourds sell great for office, desk and table spread decorating.
Some of the events Barry has experience with include a “Grow the Biggest” Contest where shoppers bring pumpkins they have grown into the store to be weighed. The biggest is given a prize. Kids Costume Days events always draw in extra shoppers.
Grouping Seasonal Items Evokes Spontaneous Sales
“Autumn themed Floral Bouquets and Balloons draw extra attention to pumpkin displays and help you sell more of both,” offers Joe. “Tie in Apple Cider, especially if you have a portable table that can accommodate an iced display.”
Produce Merchandiser, Pat Powers, recommends Apple tie-ins too. “Shelf-stable or iced Apple Cider, Caramel Apple Dips and Kits, Apple Crisp – these are things families use at the same time they are decorating for fall, hosting fall parties or carving pumpkins.”
“Apples, Ginger Snap Cookies, Carving Kits, Painting Kits, Candy Corn and Hardy Mums sell great with Fall Ornamentals,” notes Barry.
For Decorating? Eating? Both?
“One of the biggest trends in ornamentals merchandising that has emerged in recent years is the strong consumer interest in heirloom-style pumpkins, many of which are also edible,” mentions Jonathan Steffy, Director of Sales. “People like to have a few ‘conversation piece’ pumpkins on their front porch for decorating that look interesting, weird, or cool. Scabby-looking Peanut Pumpkins, ghostly Blue Jarrahdales, old-world ribbed Fairytales, or wart-covered Knuckleheads are so different that you can’t help but want to add them to your fall home decorating.”
Signage is critical so that customers understand that they can BUY from the ornamentals on display and that the products are not just for store decoration. Joe suggests, “Proper signage is so important, and scale size pictures help your customers and staff out. If you have to sticker each ornamental with a store label gun it can be unsightly and detract from the farm-stand look. Take time to communicate the proper PLU codes, varieties and price points to the front end staff so things can be rung up properly and assigned to the right department.”
Brian says, “Provide a chart in store by your displays showing the different kinds of pumpkin varieties. This will help the customer identify what they are buying. Offer nice pumpkin pie recipes on your pie pumpkin and hard squash displays.”
Medium-sized Pie Pumpkin varieties, sometimes called Baby Pams or Sugar Pie Pumpkins, are the best for pumpkin pie and soup recipes. Blue and Red Hubbard winter squash, plus the dense heirloom type pumpkins are good for homemade recipes too. On the other hand, Face Pumpkins and White Pumpkins are excellent for carving, yer are too stringy and watery for cooking and baking.
We’ve created this infographic to help you and your shoppers understand what the different large size pumpkin varieties are and which are good for use in recipes:
Timing Is Everything
Once school is back in session and Labor Day has passed, shoppers switch their mindset to fall decorating and Halloween. Late September and early October are the best time to really go for it in your Fall Ornamental and Pumpkin displays. Stores that put out displays earlier in September capture more ornamental sales.
“One thing I learned during my years at retail was to have tons of variety and massive displays throughout the store in the early fall season then adjust back later in October to sell out of the varietals and simply focus on the Face Pumpkins for carving all the way up until the 31st,” recalls Ben O’Brien, Retail Sales Representative. “Shoppers expected to come into the produce department the week of Halloween and still be able to find pumpkins to turn into jack-o-lanterns.”
“After Halloween big ornamentals don’t sell, but jack-be-littles and gourds will still move OK for Thanksgiving decorating during parts of November,” remembers Nick.
Here are some of the fall pumpkin and ornamental products
Four Seasons Produce will be offering this season.
Contact your sales rep or merchandiser to order or discuss more ideas!